SPEN VICTORIA are seriously challenging for a promotion from Division Two and the man spearheading their charge is 38-year-old paceman Rob Burton.
Burton, pictured right, first appeared for Victoria aged 16 alongside his farther, John, but having done the rounds on the Bradford League circuit he is now back at Spen Lane and enjoying the time of his cricketing life.
After two wins last weekend Spen are now just 12 points behind front-runners Farsley and a massive 29 clear of third-placed New Farnley.
And the part Burton has played in such success cannot be underestimated.
A five-wicket haul in his side’s victory over Undercliffe, plus the two in the previous day’s win over Great Horton, took his total to 45 for the season.
As a result, he he leads the divisional wicket-taking tally at the half-way stage. With 12 games remaining in 2013, Burton looks certain to better his career best 50 wickets in a season.
Despite having usually skippered his previous clubs Burton admits to feeling “freed up” by Dan Shuffe taking the captaincy reins, a man whose style he holds in high regard.
“Dan is a good man, tough, but with a really cool head,” he told The Press.
“I am really enjoying my cricket this season.”
Things are going well, with Burton receiving the plaudits from rivals for his ability to move the ball both ways at pace.
But that is something, about which, he is self-deprecating.
“It is just a case of hitting the seam and letting the ball do the rest,” insisted Burton.
“If I don’t know where it is going then the batsman has no chance.”
As it happens the Spen man is no slouch with the bat either, for his 61 at Undercliffe acted as the top score in Victoria’s 55-run success.
Elsewhere, Gomersal slipped further down the table with defeats at Bankfoot and New Farnley. Opponents Bankfoot had clearly overcome the disappointment of being expelled from the Priestley Cup following the apparent oversight of playing their overseas signing despite the fact he hadn’t played a league game before the previous round – so contravening the competition rules.
Gomersal’s Richard Gould currently tops the second tier batting books and with 14,526 career runs to date he is well on the way to his 15,000 target.
Bankfoot’s Priestley Cup expulsion has paved the way for Bradford and Bingley to visit Hanging Heaton in next week’s semi-final.
Though before that skipper Mark Lawson has the job of negotiating a banana skin league game at Baildon followed by a Heavy Woollen Cup semi-final at home to Central Yorkshire League outfit Townville this weekend.
In another crucial Division One clash, second-placed Cleckheaton are to travel to Pudsey St Lawrence.
The Moorenders previously stormed past Pudsey Congs, so will be confident of seeing off their third-placed rivals.
In Division Two, meanwhile, Spen will be at home to Idle as Gomersal take on Brighouse at Oxford Road.